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rakhi special

Ties that bind

Rakhi had turned 13, and it was a difficult age to be. Rakhi had been born born on the day of raksha bandhan, a festival where sisters’ tie coloured strings round their brothers wrists, with a vow of a lifetime of protection along with various gifts. Rakhi loved her namesake festival.
Rakhi always got gifts for raksha bandhan, as well as her birthday, even when they didn’t fall on the same day.
This year however, Rakhi was dreading raksha bandhan. You see, Rakhi was an only child, and did not have any brother of her own. Yet over the years it had been a kind of tradition that she used to tie Rakhi’s to the doodh wala ‘bhaiya’, the postman ‘bhaiya’, and the chowkidar ‘bhaiya’. They all used to come on their respective bicycles, bearing small gifts for Rakhi , this was followed by a small custom of applying tika and aarti, after which Rakhi was left beaming with gifts not just from her ‘brothers’, but her parents as well. But that was when Rakhi was young. Now things were different as she had turned thirteen.
The irony of being an only child , being named Rakhi , and having her birthday during the festival of sibling revelry was too much for her to bear. Friends in her school mocked her, calling her the sister of the postman. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but over the years her family had made r
Rakhi(a colloquial name for raksha bandhan) celebration a ritual, and Rakhi’s parents could not understand why Rakhi was so glum while choosing the new clothes she always got for the occasion.
‘beta what is wrong don’t you want that yellow dress? It looks so lovely on you.’Rakhi’s mother asked.
‘stop calling me beta, I am a girl, or have you forgotten. If you wanted a boy why did you not have one, atleast then I would have had a ‘real’ brother.’ Rakhi was in a foul mood.
It was only a day before raksha bandhan , and a week before her birthday, and yet her parents could not cheer her up. The cook confided in Mrs Gupta, Rakhi’s mother, that the school children teased Rakhi as the postman’s sister. Rakhi’s mother felt really sad, and thought that what had been such a joyous occasion, started in all good faith, had now become a bone of contention between
her daughter and her.
The next day dawned as usual.Rakhi obliged her parents by wearing the new clothes, and accepting the presents they had got for her. To Rakhi’s relief there was none of the usual ritual of tying rakhis on her ‘brothers’. Rakhi’s parents explained the situation delicately to the milk-man, the postman and the chowkidaar, after giving them some baksheesh.
Rakhi heaved a sigh of relief. End of a charade, she thought.
Just then the unthinkable happened. Suraj, their neighbours son had come to their house to deliver some home made ‘halwa’ which his mom had made. Seeing the subdued celebrations at Rakhi’s house, he queried,”Aunty, this year Rakhi isn’t celebrating rakhi?” Mrs Gupta answered,”No beta, you see Rakhi has out grown her previous brothers… but you have known her for so long , and you do not have a sister of your own too, so may be you can become her brother this year?”
No sooner had her mother finished saying these words that Rakhi bolted out of her house, took her bicycle and fled.
Tears stung her eyes.She was angry, and embarrassed. ‘how can mother be so cruel? She knows I like Suraj and yet she had to say such things. Why did she name me Rakhi when she had no plans of having a second child. How dare she ask Suraj.. ’Rakhi was inconsolable.
She rode to her favorite place, in the park. Beside a lake, behind a few rocks, among the silence of the approaching dusk, Rakhi sobbed.
Suddenly, a hand full of orange candies fell into her lap.
She looked up to find Suraj standing beside her.She was mortified and tried to leave, but he sat down beside her.He said,” I am sorry, I know you like orange candies ,so.. .” “How did you find me?” Rakhi queried.
“I knew” Suraj shrugged.
“I’ve seen you here before”Suraj answered
There was silence for a long time , as the two of them sat watching the sun go down over the lake, while the crickets played in the long grass.
“I hate Rakhi!” Rakhi sighed
“Hmmm, the person or the festival?” Suraj asked
Rakhi scowled at Suraj and said,”the festival obviously!”
Suraj answered,” well I don’t know, I kind of like Rakhi.”
“Rakhi the person, that is.”
You see, Suraj had turned 13, and it was a difficult age to be.

Kuheli bhattacharya


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